The redemption of callie.., p.47
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       The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, p.47

         Part #2 of The Coincidence series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 47


  She’s quiet for a moment and I can hear her breathing, in and out. “I love you too. ”

  For a moment, everything makes sense in the world. For a moment, the darkness in my life lights up. For a moment, everything is perfect and still.

  Callie I have a silly grin on my face when I return back to the benches. I just got off the phone with Kayden and he told me he loved me. I wasn’t too sure about him going out alone to Virginia. I was worried about him meeting another family member who would let him down and hurt him. But it has to be going well.

  Because he said he loves me. Loves me. I’m practically skipping.

  Greyson, Seth, Luke, and I are at a basketball game. The crowd is really loud, and whistling and shouting fill up the stadium, along with the sounds of sneakers scuffing along the court. The air smells like peanuts, popcorn, and sweat.

  “Where are Greyson and Luke?” I ask when I sit down in my seat next to Seth.

  Seth points down at the bottom of our section where Luke and Greyson are standing near the railing, chatting about something. Greyson keeps waving his arms animatedly and Luke keeps shaking his head in disagreement.

  Seth’s brown eyes scan my face as he reaches into his popcorn bucket. “What’s with the silly grin, my darling Callie?”

  My smile grows as I grab a handful of popcorn. “Kayden just told me he loves me. ”

  He almost throws the popcorn bucket onto the floor as he reaches to wrap his arms around me. “I’m so happy for you,” he says, hugging me.

  I embrace him back, laughing as we squish the popcorn bucket between our bodies. “I’m really happy for me too. ”

  He pulls away with a grin on his face as he sweeps the spilled popcorn off his lap. “I know you are, which is good. I really didn’t want to kick Kayden’s ass. ”

  I laugh softly at the idea of it. “I’m sure Kayden’s grateful too. ”

  A large man behind us starts yelling at Luke and Greyson to “sit the fuck down!”

  “Shut the hell up,” Seth chimes in, giving him a dirty look over his shoulder as Luke flips him the middle finger.

  I hold my breath until the tension clears and then Luke and Greyson start talking again. Luke’s been hanging out with the three of us for the last few days and always seems comfortable, never out of place.

  “Sometimes… I wonder if Luke…” I lean in to Seth and lower my voice. “If Luke… likes… guys. ”

  Seth sits there for a moment, crunching on popcorn as he chews noisily. Then he starts laughing so loudly it nearly drowns out the crowd. Then he stops and says in a low voice, “Luke’s not gay, Callie. ”

  “Are you sure? Maybe he’s just afraid to come out, like Braiden was. ”

  “Yeah, I’m sure. ” Seth’s shoulders slump with his sigh and he shakes his head. “You want to know what I think?”

  I nod and grab a handful of popcorn. “Yes, please share your all-knowing thoughts. ”

  He offers me a smile as he leans into me and whispers, “I think that Luke’s been through something that makes him more understanding and accepting than the average person. And I think that sometimes people misinterpret understanding and acceptance and make it into something that it isn’t. ”

  He’s completely right and I feel terrible. “You’re right and I’m sorry. I should never try to guess things about people. ”

  “You don’t need to apologize,” he says, jabbing me playfully in the side with his elbow. “Besides, you’re one of those people. ”

  “What? Understanding and accepting?” I shove a handful of popcorn into my mouth.

  His smile lights up his whole face. “The kind of person who can see things in a different light, who’s been to hell and back. The kind who has had and gave redemption. ”

  I return his smile with equal happiness as the crowd goes wild around us, shouting and clapping and jumping up from their seats over a three-pointer. Seth starts clapping and I move my hands together, but then my phone rings from inside my pocket.

  “Cumbersome,” by Seven Mary Three.

  “It’s my brother!” I shout over the noise of the crowd as I get to my feet. “I’ll be right back. He’s been trying to call me all night. ”

  I hurry down the stairs, making sure to move to the other side when a group of guys comes walking up. Even through all of the recovery, crowds and unfamiliar guys make me nervous. But the important part is I’m here and not hiding.

  I quickly answer it as enter the food area and the screaming of the crowd fades out. “Hey,” I say.

  “Hey. ” He doesn’t sound happy, but he usually doesn’t. I’ve actually noticed that my brother has a very grumpy tone, but that it’s just him and shouldn’t be taken personally.

  “Sorry I didn’t pick up earlier. ” I head to one of the empty metal tables in the middle of the room, sink down on a bench, and rest my arm on top of the table. “I’m at a game and it’s loud. ”

  “It’s all right. ” He gets quiet and then he sighs. “Callie, I don’t know how to tell you this—and mom thinks I shouldn’t—but you’re friends with Luke and you’re going to find out. ”

  A lump starts to form in my throat and I swallow hard to force it down. “What’s wrong?”

  He takes a loud breath and blows it out. “Well, after the police searched Caleb’s house they found a few things… notes and journals and stuff… and, well… do you remember Amy Price?

  Luke’s sister? She was only a couple of years older than you and she committed suicide when she was sixteen. ”

  “I didn’t know she… I didn’t know that. ” My chest starts to compress as I remember the one time Luke mentioned his sister.

  “Well, she did and no one really knew why,” he says. “I remember some of the kids in my grade saying she was a slut and super weird and a pothead, but no one really knew her outside of that. ”

  Change a few words and Amy’s story matches mine.

  “Jackson, what was in those journals they found?”

  He keeps puffing out breaths and I wonder if he’s smoking or something. “Notes about people, you, her… and the stuff he did to you… her… other girls. ”

  I sit there, frozen in time, like a statue made of cracked and chipped stone. “How do you know this?”

  “Dad’s friend, Denny, the cop, came over for dinner the other night and told dad, even though he’s not supposed to talk about it yet until further investigation. He thought dad should know since there was stuff in the journals about… you. ”

  He keeps talking, but I barely hear him. I barely hear anything over the sound of my heart. I’m not even sure what’s striking the nerve. Whether it’s the feelings manifesting inside me, that Caleb actually wrote about me, that he did stuff to others, or that Luke’s sister killed herself… and that maybe… and that maybe she did it because of her internal suffering. Maybe she just couldn’t hold on any longer.

  I cut the conversation short and head back to the stadium. I walk back to the bench and my eyes instantly go to Luke. He looks at me and cocks on eyebrow with interest and I feel my heart transfer to him. I don’t know how I think or how I feel. Because even though I got my redemption, Luke’s sister wasn’t so lucky.

  I grab at the clover hanging around my neck and hold onto to it with every single speck of hope I have in me and I tell myself just how lucky I am. Yes, I went through a lot of pain, heartache, breaking. But I’m here breathing and my heart is beating. I’m thriving. I’m not alone. And I’m loved.


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